A Washington news site is reporting the Obama administration has put a “gag order” on the insurance industry, preventing it from releasing health insurance rates until after Tuesday’s midterm elections in an effort to shield Democrats from voter backlash.
The rates were released by mid-October in past years but will be delayed by a month in 2014, the Gateway Pundit reports, citing a report by Warner Todd Huston, a Chicago-based freelance writer who writes a blog at PubliusForum.com.
“Barack Obama is again playing political games with our health insurance industry and has turned in another underhanded move against it by forcing insurance carriers, brokers and agents to withhold their 2015 prices until after the 2014 midterm elections are over all so that the news of higher prices won’t hurt Democrats on Election Day,” Huston wrote.
“This means that customers looking to get new insurance or those wishing to scout new policies to see if they can get a better deal are not able to shop for insurance.”
Millions of new cancellations will be hitting on Jan. 1, 2015, Huston reports, “while much of this news has gone under the radar as Democrats and their lapdog media are keeping this as quiet as possible.
“There is also something different with these cancellations, something that has never happened before in the healthcare insurance industry,” he writes. “Past practice has always been that the next year’s new rates are released 60 days before the first day of the next year. But Obama has mandated that companies hold back on that normal practice so that he can shield Democrats at the polls.”
Huston then cites a blog posting by insurance agent C. Steven Tucker this weekend that states:
“This year, for the first time in 20 years I can not even quote a replacement product because Barack Obama has issued a GAG ORDER to the health insurance industry instructing them not to disclose their January 2015 health insurance rates until after the mid-term elections. This is unprecedented. Normally health insurance premiums are released for public viewing 60 days before the January 1st effective date. Where are the reports on these cancellations and the gag order from NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN? The only news organization that I am aware of that has reported on any of this is the Fox News channel. I can guarantee you one thing, not one of my clients who received a cancellation notice is voting Democrat on Tuesday.”
The report is false, according to Snopes. But the fact-checking service seems to give a weak analysis.
According to Snopes, the administration gave no “mandate” that “forced” insurance companies to withhold the release of their new rates.
However, the Obama administration did change the overall schedule for this year, and unless the companies were ahead of the new deadline curve, they would not be in a position to even know their rates, let alone release them, until after the election.
“Although the Department of Health and Human Services did indeed require insurance companies not to disclose website testing data ahead of open enrollment for 2015, none of the cited or quoted material suggests that the e-mailed request from HHS in any way absolutely prohibited companies from disclosing their 2015 insurance rates (or even mentions rates, premiums, deductibles, or anything in that general vicinity) prior to the mid-term elections,” Snopes writes. “And, in fact, printed enrollment material sent out by some insurance companies prior to the mid-term election did include rate information for 2015. The shift in the open enrollment period for 2015 means that many consumers who obtain insurance through the federal exchanges might not be aware of newer rates (and potential rate increases) until after the 2014 mid-term elections, however.”
Snopes acknowledges that back in November 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opted to push the start of the 2015 enrollment period for federal health-care exchanges back from mid-October 2014 to mid-November 2014, “a move some critics cited as an attempt to prevent bad news about rate increases from coming out prior to the mid-term elections in November 2014.”
Snopes then accepts the benign reasoning offered by HHS for the delay.
“HHS maintained that the change in schedule was made to allow insurance companies more time to review the previous year’s enrollments before setting their rates for the upcoming year and to provide more time for potential customers to make their enrollment choices.”
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/11/obama-issues-gag-order-on-health-insurance-rates/#uFtu8IpDI99IfUOy.99